National Occupational Therapy Month
National Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (April 13-19, 2020)


Are You Seeing More Patients with Head and Neck Cancer?

Are You Confident Providing Treatment?



Written by: Nicole Scheiman, DrOT, MHS, OTR/L, CLTLANA, CEES-Advanced, CKTP


April is Occupational Therapy Month and each April I take a few moments to reflect back on my career as a whole, and to reflect on my clinical practice in the last few years.  I take this time as an opportunity to set professional goals for myself, somewhat like New Year’s Resolutions, only I tend to stick with my Occupational Therapy Month goals longer! 

A few years ago, I set a goal to learn more about head and neck cancers because I was starting to see an increase in patients with either active head and neck cancer or a history of head and neck cancer, now presenting with co-morbidities as a result of medical interventions.  One reason for the increase of individuals with head and neck cancer is that in the United States, the incidence of the human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven oropharyngeal cancer has increased by 225% since the late 1980’s, putting the United States at the epicenter of this emerging epidemic (Stubblefield, 2019). 

Increased incidence paired with highly successful medical treatments is resulting in more individuals requiring our services.  Our skilled services are vital throughout the treatment trajectory in order to provide prevention and treatment of comorbidities.  Therapy practitioners are charged with providing these individuals with safe, effective, client-driven treatment techniques to restore and improve functional performance and quality of life. 

The question is…are we prepared to provide quality, evidenced-based treatment?  Are you knowledgeable of which cancers affect the head and neck?  Are you familiar with the causes and risk factors associated with an increased risk of head and neck cancer?  Are you aware of the symptoms of head and neck cancer?  Do you understand how these cancers are diagnosed? Medically treated?  Are you comfortable with the complex anatomy of the head and neck? 


So, are you prepared to provide rehabilitation services for this patient population?  If not, please join me in making some “Therapy Resolutions” and register for my live webinar on Head and Neck Cancer, June 24th from 5:00pm-7:00pm EST. To register, visit summit-education.com.  I look forward to connecting and learning with you! 



Stubblefield, M. (2019).  Cancer rehabilitation:  Principles and Practice.  2nd Edition.  New York:  Springer Publishing.